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Focus

Like Ficarra and Requa’s 2011 comedy Crazy Stupid Love, Focus begins promisingly and bops along enjoyably for a while, only to run out of steam…

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Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg's film of Bruce Wagner's Hollywood satire-nightmare turns ludicrous situations into operatic tragedy.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Bill Mauldin, American

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When I came to The Sun-Times in 1966, the legend was still fresh in memory: How when John F. Kennedy was shot, Bill Mauldin went directly to his easel and produced a drawing that was reproduced around the world. The Sun-Times gave it the entire back page. It was stunning. It said everything, and it said it with grief and anger at the same time. Bill and Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) were the two most famous people on the paper. They were both nice and hung out with their fellow employees, although I can't say Eppie was a regular at Riccardo's, the hangout out the back door across Rush Street.

The front booth at Riccardo's on a Friday night would often hold Bill, his great pal John Fischetti, editorial cartoonist of the Chicago Daily News; Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, and assorted visiting firemen. Bill was good company. I remember one night I gave Bill and a copy girl named Chris rides home. Chris lived in Sandburg Terrace. As she got out and walked toward the door, I said, "There she goes, the milk-fed flower of American youth."

After Bill married Chris, he never let me forget those words. After a time they moved to Santa Fe and Bill sent his drawings in by wirephoto. He adopted a bolder line, because he developed arthritis in his fingers. Eventually he had to stop drawing. I had a wonderful time with them once in Santa Fe. He seemed happy and at peace.

The last years of his life were tragic ones. This is not the place to recite them. He slogged through World War Two as an infantryman with a drawing pad, and drew indelible cartoons that made GIs feel someone understood them. He drew the lasting image of the nation's grief after Kennedy was murdered. He was a great man. He was a friend. He lived too long.

Pulitzer Prize winners in the 1970s at the palate-shaped bar at Riccardo's. Left to right: Bill Mauldin, Ebert, Tom Fitzpatrick, John Fischetti, Ron Powers. (Photo by Playboy)

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Helicopter crashes in our house!

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I gave my grandson Taylor a remote-controlled helicopter for Christmas. Recalling the pathetic battery-controlled toy cars of my youth, I was impressed by this sleek and impressive little machine.

It really flies. It climbed to the top of a three-story atrium. The "pilot" uses something like a game console to control its flight. It goes up, down and sideways with impressive accuracy. To save the weight of batteries, it has a tiny engine you can charge.

Here he is demonstrating the clever little machine. All went splendidly until the final moments of the flight--when something, perhaps caused by terrorists on board--caused it to make a sudden dive for that portion of the male anotomy one least desires to be the target of a helicopter attack.

Taylor suspects the crash may have been caused by pilot error. Click on my photos to enlarge.

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"You being in love," by e. e. cummings

you being in love will tell who softly asks in love,

am i separated from your body smile brain hands merely to become the jumping puppets of a dream? oh i mean: entirely having in my careful how careful arms created this at length inexcusable, this inexplicable pleasure-you go from several persons: believe me that strangers arrive when i have kissed you into a memory slowly, oh seriously -that since and if you disappear

solemnly myselves ask "life, the question how do i drink dream smile

and how do i prefer this face to another and why do i weep eat sleep-what does the whole intend" they wonder. oh and they cry "to be, being, that i am alive this absurd fraction in its lowest terms with everything cancelled but shadows -what does it all come down to? love? Love if you like and i like,for the reason that i hate people and lean out of this window is love,love and the reason that i laugh and breathe is oh love and the reason that i do not fall into this street is love."

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